I can't stand canned soups being used as an ingredient in casseroles. It's a major pet peeve of mine. The very thought of a can of thick, glutinous glop messing with my casserole makes me cranky. And I'm doubly unnerved by canned green beans — even the smell of them sends me over the edge.

But come Thanksgiving, millions of people all over the United States mix those two creepy ingredients together and just love it. Not me. I'm a hater. But I like the idea of a green bean casserole. So I messed around with a homemade version not requiring either ingredient, and it's out of this world. One caveat to homemade version — I acquiesced to the canned fried onions. Even in my green bean casserole snobbery, I can still recognize perfection — you just gotta have those canned onions!

So, I made this version of Green Bean Casserole this past Thanksgiving, and let me tell you, it rocks! It was so good, I would make it again just to snarf half of it down myself. Honestly, it really did the trick. So don't be hating! And listen, if you are one of the many that love a green bean casserole regardless of ingredients, wait till you try this one. Your eyes will roll back in your head and your toes will curl. It's that good.


Leanne's Green Bean Casserole Re-Do

Topping:

1 large can fried onion rings (you know what I'm talking about)

1/4 cup Italian blend cheeses (mine had Romano, Parmesan and Asiago)

The casserole:

2 pounds frozen skinny green beans or use fresh (I used Trader Joe's frozen haricot verts)

4 tablespoons butter, divided in half (always use unsalted butter!)

1 splash of vegetable oil (I used safflower)

1 pound wild mushrooms, sliced (use whatever you can find at the grocery store)

3 cloves garlic, pressed

salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons flour

4 tablespoons Italian blend cheeses (same as topping cheese)

3/4 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup white wine (I used a chardonnay)

2 cups cream (I used half-and-half and it worked fine)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Blend the onions and cheese together in a small bowl; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, place the green beans. If you are using frozen beans, just put them in frozen. If you are using fresh, make sure you have steamed them to a tender crisp doneness and cooled them a bit; then put them in the bowl.

In a large skillet over a medium high heat, add the butter and touch of oil (the oil keeps the butter from burning). Add the mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper and cook till mushrooms are done. It'll take about 5 minutes. Turn down the heat if necessary. Keep the mushrooms moving periodically. Remove mushrooms from heat. Set aside.

Add the remaining butter to the pan and add the broth and wine, bringing it to a simmer. In the meantime, toss the cheese with the flour. Add this cheese mixture to the simmering broth, whisking together till well blended. As the sauce starts to thicken, slowly add the cream, whisking all the while. Simmer about 10 minutes on low. Be careful — too hard a boil and the sauce will separate.

Now throw the sauce over the green beans, toss together. Place the sauced-up beans in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, sprinkle with topping and place in the middle of your preheated oven, cooking for about 15 minutes or until all is nice and hot and beans are thoroughly cooked. Serves 8-10.


Leanne Ely, aka Dinner Diva, is the author of the best-selling "Saving Dinner" and "Saving Dinner the Low Carb Way" (Ballantine). What's for dinner? Go to www.savingdinner.com and find the solution!